Late last month, the City of Nelson announced the completion of the Railtown Bridge railing across Cottonwood Creek. The railing was designed, created and installed by local artist Brent Bukowski.
Bukowski, who has had solo exhibitions at Touchstones Nelson and the Oxygen Art Centre, works primarily with found objects such as metal and glass, the majority of which have been reclaimed from forestry and mining regional landfills.
“My preliminary design work for this railing focused on the significance of the railway and the strong heritage theme of Nelson’s downtown core,” said Bukowski. “However, upon visiting the project location, a theme was revealed when a young lad rolled by on his skateboard and I envisioned, chronologically, a sampling of what may have crossed the creek over the last century.
“It was important for me to use reclaimed materials from within the region: the bulk of the sculptural core consists of cross-sections of 300-plus cast-iron automobile brake rotors/drums, each filled out with bicycle sprockets, mountain bike rotors and the measurement gears from petrol pumps.”
Assembled side by side, the items create the meandering middle rail with the required flush surface for the sidewalk side of the railing. The creek side of the railing reveals the three-dimensional perspective of the sculpture, in which a variety of mixed metals (horse related, mining/forestry/agricultural components, auto/motorcycle/snowmobile parts, bicycle/skateboard, etc.) lap the front pieces. They area all bolted and riveted together.
This railing is a first step in implementing the City’s Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan, which recognizes the historical importance of the railway in Nelson by renaming the lower Baker Street area Railtown.
The Railtown district is expected to grow in significance in the coming years, showcasing the restored CP Stationhouse that will house, amongst other uses, a regional visitor gateway and business welcome centre. Provincial grant funds received through the LocalMotion program were used for the railing, and to install sidewalks, curbing and heritage light standards at the four-way stop at the foot of Baker Street. Additional features, to be installed in the next two months, will include Railtown signage and decorative banners.